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Open Access
Article
Publication date: 22 February 2022

Robbert Hesen, Arjen E.J. Wals and Rebekah L. Tauritz

This study aims to demonstrate which course elements were responsible for community building, fostering subjectification and learning for being in an online course on…

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Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to demonstrate which course elements were responsible for community building, fostering subjectification and learning for being in an online course on environmental and sustainability education (ESE) during the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing.

Design/methodology/approach

The study investigates a graduate-level course on Environmental Education for Sustainable Living that due to COVID-19 had to be taught mainly online. A retrospective analysis was conducted when the facilitators reflected on why the course, against expectations, appeared to have affected so many students in such a meaningful and profound way as shown by their personal reflections and the course evaluation. Methodologically, this study can be described as explorative and interpretative, although it was complemented by a standardised empirical analytical end-of course evaluation.

Findings

Within the context of this study, sense of community is linked to and facilitated by the online learning environment and the educators’ and students’ roles throughout the course. This study found that interaction and inclusion can be augmented by a hybrid educational design and supported by the mutual efforts of educators and students. Reflective tasks and discussions most prominently evoked subjectification. The encouragement of students to see themselves as central subjects and the inclusion of creative tasks supported both personal exploration and sense of community.

Originality/value

This study provides educational institutions teaching online with valuable information regarding course elements that foster subjectification and create a sense of community. This is particularly of interest for the design of online ESE emphasising learning for being and more relational approaches towards teaching and learning.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 23 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 15 July 2022

Valentina C. Tassone, Perry den Brok, Cassandra W.S. Tho and Arjen E.J. Wals

By envisioning the learning environment as an eco-social system, this study aims to map interrelated enablers of students’ sustainability-oriented learning (SoL) in the…

Abstract

Purpose

By envisioning the learning environment as an eco-social system, this study aims to map interrelated enablers of students’ sustainability-oriented learning (SoL) in the context of a university course at the interface of science and society.

Design/methodology/approach

A case-study approach was used to delineate what enables student learning in a university-wide transdisciplinary Master of Science course. A sample of 102 students, university and societal stakeholders participated to this study, by sharing their experiences and views through focus groups and questionnaires.

Findings

A main finding is the development of a configuration of six intertwined enablers that through their interplay help to cultivate students’ SoL, in the course under exploration.

Originality/value

This study paves the way for a re-orientation of how to explore learning in complex environments. It shows that adopting a relational, situated and systems approach is not only feasible but is also desirable to understand and guide learning practices in complex environments.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 23 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 6 January 2012

Arjen E.J. Wals and Lisa Schwarzin

This paper aims to introduce and investigate dialogic interaction as a key element of achieving a transition towards sustainability in people, organizations and society as…

2172

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to introduce and investigate dialogic interaction as a key element of achieving a transition towards sustainability in people, organizations and society as a whole. Furthermore “sustainability competence” as a potential outcome of such interaction is to be introduced, referring to the capacities and qualities that people, and the organizations and communities of which they are part, need in order to address (un)sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

The argument of the paper is grounded conceptually in emergent thinking among scholars preoccupied with learning‐based change and sustainability in organizations and communities. Empirically, the paper uses two case studies carried out by the authors to ground the argument in real efforts by communities to create a (more) sustainable way of living.

Findings

The main results include: a post‐normal understanding of sustainability highlighting uncertainty, complexity, normativity, controversy and indeterminacy; a framework facilitating dialogic interaction; and a number of key competences that appear conducive to both dialogic interaction and a transition to sustainability.

Research limitations/implications

Although the two case studies are quite extensive and rigorous, the conceptual nature of the paper and the word limitation did not allow for a more detailed discussion of the methodology used in the case studies and the contexts in which the two case studies are located.

Originality/value

The paper adopts a post‐normal perspective of organizational transitions towards sustainability and focuses on dialogue and dialogic interaction as a key learning‐based mechanism for facilitating such a transition. Furthermore the framework for dialogic interaction allows for a more holistic approach toward such a transition and the development of competences needed to accelerate its realization.

Article
Publication date: 21 September 2010

Arjen E.J. Wals

The purpose of this paper is to identify components and educational design principles for strengthening sustainability competence in and through higher education.

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify components and educational design principles for strengthening sustainability competence in and through higher education.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a conceptual paper that uses an exemplary autobiographical empirical case study in order to illustrate and support a line of reasoning.

Findings

A number of “Gestalts” of mind‐sets of sustainability competence and key elements of the learning processes needed for developing such competence have been identified.

Originality/value

This is one of the first papers to consider sustainability competence from a transformative social learning perspective. The value of the paper lies in its potential to help teachers of university courses in re‐designing their educational processes with sustainability competence in mind.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 11 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 1 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 September 2002

Arjen E.J. Wals and Bob Jickling

It is higher education’s responsibility to continuously challenge and critique value and knowledge claims that have prescriptive tendencies. Part of this responsibility…

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Abstract

It is higher education’s responsibility to continuously challenge and critique value and knowledge claims that have prescriptive tendencies. Part of this responsibility lies in engaging students in socio‐scientific disputes. The ill‐defined nature of sustainability manifests itself in such disputes when conflicting values, norms, interests, and reality constructions meet. This makes sustainability – its need for contextualization and the debate surrounding it – pivotal for higher education. It offers an opportunity for reflection on the mission of our universities and colleges, but also a chance to enhance the quality of the learning process. This paper explores both the overarching goals and process of higher education from an emancipatory view and with regard to sustainability.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 3 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 21 September 2010

Zinaida Fadeeva and Yoko Mochizuki

478

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 11 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Article
Publication date: 27 July 2018

Michelle Larkins, Wynne Wright and Shari Dann

This paper aims to examine the textual coverage of the topic of public engagement in leading English language sustainability textbooks.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the textual coverage of the topic of public engagement in leading English language sustainability textbooks.

Design/methodology/approach

In this paper, the authors’ findings are based on a content analysis of 12 textbooks published between 2005 and 2015. The authors generated the sample through three sources: a review of the offerings of five major academic publishers, title searches of academic databases and an examination of the syllabi compiled by AASHE. Texts that displayed a high degree of disciplinarity or those that were narrowly focused were rejected. A list of a priori codes was established in which the authors expected to find in the indices of the texts. This resulted in 21 expected a priori codes for which the authors assessed the sample texts to gauge the place of engagement in these materials.

Findings

The authors find that only two textbooks contained ten or more references to engagement. Overall, very little attention was paid to the ways in which individuals, groups or institutions can engage in action for a sustainable society. The authors argue that substantive changes in the writing of textbooks are necessary to provide students with comprehensive training on why engagement is critical. More diverse writing teams, attention to cultural obstacles and mindfulness of the politics of difference are recommended.

Practical implications

Practical implications include pedagogical methods aimed at better-informed students knowledgeable of the importance of public engagement in the sustainability transition.

Social implications

Social implications include a more dynamic socially sustainable educational experience for students, which is aligned with cutting-edge scholarship.

Originality/value

The authors know of no other research devoted to the analysis of engagement in contemporary sustainability textbooks. The authors hope to encourage writers of sustainability textbooks and their editors to incorporate more robust social science scholarship on pivotal topics such as how social change and action intersects with sustainability. Second, the authors seek to broaden a conversation about the role of public engagement in sustainability-focused textbooks and curricula.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 19 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Content available
625

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 5 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 6 January 2012

Peter A.C. Smith

This Special Issue is intended to heighten awareness of the importance of organizational learning in addressing the demands of organizational sustainability, and in…

10104

Abstract

Purpose

This Special Issue is intended to heighten awareness of the importance of organizational learning in addressing the demands of organizational sustainability, and in particular triple bottom line (TBL) sustainability. A definition of TBL sustainability is provided, together with an exploration of the practical issues relevant to adopting organizational learning in addressing it. By exploring research and practitioner viewpoints bearing on sustainability‐related applications of organizational learning, this Special Issue aims to help organizations remove barriers to achieving sustainability goals and catalyze the progress for an organization on its sustainability journey.

Design/methodology/approach

General sustainability‐related concerns and challenges associated with organizational learning are reviewed, and individual authors voice their understanding of the application of organizational leaning to particular aspects of sustainability based on their research, their case studies, and the extant literature.

Findings

Findings include enhanced understanding of the incompatibility of single‐ and double loop learning in TBL sustainability contexts, and the required emphasis on double‐loop learning to progress sustainability aims successfully. The effectiveness of dialogic interaction is described in achieving a transition towards sustainability in people, organizations and society as a whole. How individual worldviews called “our ecological selves” allow creation of the conditions for confronting global environmental challenges is explained. Contributions are made to the understanding of hybrid organizations through the case of a Brazilian networked organization, and a paradox view of management based on the theories of organizational learning and managerial cybernetics is applied to enlighten the understanding of sustainability. The learning and adaptive system of the US commercial aviation industry is explored and the application of such a system in an organization operating according to triple bottom line sustainability principles is described.

Originality/value

The opinions and research presented provide new and unique understanding of how organizational learning may contribute to organizational sustainability. Further value is added via the assessment of means to progress the sustainability ideal, the identification of barriers, and the many practical examples of means to facilitate progress toward that ideal.

1 – 10 of 22